Did you know that there’s a relationship between your fingernails and your bones? Believe it or not, they are so closely connected, that your fingernails actually give you a visual glimpse of the condition of your bones.
Nutrition plays a very important role in strengthening both nails and bones, so today I’m going to share six delicious Foundation Foods that do just that.
Fingernails Mirror Your Bone Health
When researchers examined the fingernail integrity and bone health of two groups of volunteers – one with osteoporosis and the other without – they found that those with osteoporosis had weaker fingernails than those with normal bone density. Specifically, the fingernails of osteoporotic people had a lower disulfide bond than those of non-osteoporotic people. Disulfide bonds are integral to the structural integrity of both bone and fingernails:
“Bone collagen and nail keratin are two distinct structural proteins, and both require protein sulfation and disulfide bond formation, via cysteine, for structural integrity.”1
Savers will recognize cysteine, a sulfur-containing, non-essential amino acid that is incorporated into proteins. Many of the foods you’ll see listed today contain cysteine.
Let’s start with one of my personal favorites, nutrient-rich salmon.
Although it’s acidifying, salmon is a flavorful reservoir of bone-rejuvenating, nail-strengthening nutrients. It’s especially rich in B12, a deficiency of which can cause your fingernails to become dry and darkened.
Salmon also has bone-building Vitamin D, a crucial vitamin for bone growth. Additionally, salmon is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids, which work by regulating various biochemical reactions in the body. For example, components of Omega-3s block the inflammatory effects of Omega-6 fatty acids, which are high in the typical Western diet. This is why a balance of fatty acids is important for optimal bone health and overall wellness.
Another acidifying food, eggs have a place in a bone-healthy diet. They are one of the few dietary sources of Vitamin D, and their protein content is crucial for strong fingernails. Unlike meats, the protein in eggs is highly digestible and easily taken up by the body.
Eggs also contain B12, vitamins A and E, iron, and biotin (also known as Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H, and a part of the B-complex vitamins). Biotin has been scientifically shown to increase fingernail thickness and reduce brittleness and splitting.2 (More on the study below)
Eggs contain iodine, which promotes healthy thyroid function. Both an overactive and underactive thyroid can cause excessive bone loss.
One of the things that make rotten eggs smell so bad is their sulfur content. But in fresh eggs, sulfur is a beneficial nutrient that strengthens fingernails and hair.
Beans are rich in biotin, and as noted above, this vitamin has been shown to increase nail strength and integrity. In the Swiss study mentioned earlier, participants with brittle nails were given 2.5mg of biotin daily for 6 months. Amazingly, the participants’ nail thickness had increased by a full 25%.2
While lima beans don’t contain biotin, they are the only alkalizing beans. And lima beans contain no fewer than 12 Foundation Supplements, including calcium, magnesium, zinc, 6 B-complex vitamins, manganese, copper, potassium, phosphorous, and Vitamin K.
Oats contain micronutrients like copper and zinc that are important for healthy fingernail and bone maintenance. They also have manganese, silicon, and B-complex vitamins, all of which promote healthy fingernails and bones.
If you are concerned about the phytic acid content of oats, you can soak them for a few hours or overnight. Soaking helps break down the phytic acid.
Beyond just oatmeal, oats can be incorporated into a variety of delicious dishes to boost nutritional content. Also, you can top your bowl of oatmeal with food #5…
5. Sunflower Seeds
Whether added to baked goods or sprinkled on various dishes, alkalizing sunflower seeds are packed with nutrients. One of the most important ones for building bones is magnesium, which is plentiful in sunflower seeds.
In addition, sunflower seeds contain the trace minerals manganese and copper, which are essential for the synthesis and production of connective tissue in bones and cartilage.
These crunchy seeds also contain Vitamin B6, zinc, and Vitamin E. All of these minerals and vitamins contribute to healthy fingernails and strong bones. Vitamin E in particular contributes to healthy bone remodeling, and it can protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Green Peas
Springtime is the perfect time for enjoying sweet, round peas (not to be confused with snap peas or chick peas). Like the sunflower seed, green peas are small but nutrient-rich. Their protein content helps with fingernail strength and rate of growth, and they also contain beta-carotene and Vitamin C.
Green peas are excellent for bone health, too. Full of Vitamin K and B-complex, peas also contain a surprising amount of Omega-3 fatty acid. While they are almost entirely free of fat, peas contain the form of have Omega-3 called alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), which the body converts to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), the form of Omega-3 found in fatty fish like salmon.
Foods Provide Multiple Benefits
While a good multivitamin and plant-based calcium supplement are important for optimal bone rejuvenation and fingernail health, whole foods are true multi-tasking marvels.
No single-action, synthetic drug can come close to matching what the right foods and regular exercise can do for every body system. In fact, when it comes to whole-body health, it’s amazing what easy lifestyle practices can do to help you heal and reach your full health potential.
This is why the Osteoporosis Reversal Program includes an extensive list of Foundation Foods, so you can put together the optimal nutrition plan for your bones. The Program breaks down bone-building Foundation Supplements – key nutrients for rejuvenating and maintaining bone integrity – and outlines exactly which Foundation Foods contain those nutrients.
To aid this process and help you unlock the creative, delicious nature of Foundation Foods, I created Bone Appétit, the Save Our Bones cookbook. Bone Appétit showcases the colorful, flexible, flavorful nature of the foods your bones need, unlocking the amazing potential of bone-healthy cooking.
With its clear guidelines (such as the 30 Day Meal Planner) and additional recipe collections (such as Calcilicious and Blender Magic), Bone Appétit leaves no room for confusion as to “what you should eat” for your bones, and the recipes are easy to prepare.
Remember, when you eat bone-building foods, you’re boosting the health of many other body systems as well!
I’d love to hear how you enjoy the foods mentioned in this post. Feel free to share recipes and other ideas by leaving a comment below.
Till next time,
1 Pillay, L., et al. “The use of fingernails as a means of assessing bone health: a pilot study.” Journal of Women’s Health. May 2005. 14(4): 339-44. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15916508
2 Colombo, V.E., et al. “Tretament of brittle fingernails and onychoschizia with biotin: a scanning electron microscopy.” Journal of American Academy of Dermatology. December 19990. 23( 6 Pt 1): 1127-32. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2273113